Four years ago, when I opened a movement studio in Los Angeles, I wanted to make the space as “green” as possible. Many clients I work with are very allergic or sensitive, and my goal was to create a comfortable and healthy space for learning. I turned to two of my most treasured resources for advice – my sustainability coach and my aromatherapist. Through their guidance, I found natural fabrics for the window treatments, created an air purifying spray, purchased a HEPA air filter, and learned the importance of keeping the door open for periods of time to let the toxins escape. My sustainability coach further recommended plants to purify the air and highly recommended How to Grow Fresh Air as a resource. Soon after, my aromatherapist recommended the same book! The book was purchased, and I was quickly able to choose a plant that would best suit the limited lighting space of my office.
House Plants as Air Filters
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted extensive studies on treating and recycling air and wastewater when faced with the challenge of creating a life-support system for planned moon bases. Their research explored the question “How does the earth produce and sustain clean air?” Scientist B.C. Wolverton was part of this research project, which concluded that the earth produces and sustains clean air through the living processes of plants. NASA scientists discovered that houseplants could purify and revitalize air in sealed test-chambers. Wolverton’s How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office is the culmination of 25 plus years of research on this topic. This beautiful book includes concise and clear charts for each houseplant which evaluate the removal of chemical vapors, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation, and transpiration rate. And for those who do not have a green thumb, this book makes choosing a houseplant easy.
Sick Building Syndrome
Indoor air pollution is one of the health threats prevalent in today’s society. Furnishings, paints, finishes, fabrics, and cleaning agents emit toxins into the air in our homes and offices. The Envirnmental Protection Agency identifies a condition of “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) for those who “experience acute health and comfort effects as a result of time spent inside a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Symptoms of SBS include cough, chest tightness, fever, or muscle aches. Individuals often report relief when time is spent outside of the building. Causes of SBS are inadequate ventilation and/or contaminants from indoor, outdoor, or biological sources. These contaminants include chemical cleaners, exhaust fumes, and mold. Solutions include removing the contaminants, increasing ventilation, and filtering the air. Part of creating a healthy indoor environment, whether it is at work or at home, includes keeping the air clean and filtered. Wolverton’s guide is an essential reference for this task.
Plants for Home Interior Design
Many health-conscious home owners today include house plants in their home for aesthetic purposes. Since Wolverton’s book includes gorgeous color photographs, it assists one in choosing plants to enhance the aesthetics as well as the health of the home environment. Do you prefer the lacy look of a fern, the tall spindly look of the snake plant, or the tree-like shape of a dwarf date palm? Enhance your interior design theme with your plant choice. Her clear charts show the care and light requirements of each plant which narrows down our options immediately. What a help! You also might consider creating “green walls,” a trend in today’s green revolution. These walls, popular in spa settings, are covered with plants which filter the air and create a peaceful feeling as well as purified air. A few of the plants recommended in Wolverton’s book which are rather commonly known include English Ivy, Boston Fern, Peace Lily, Gerbera Daisy, and the Snake Plant. By eliminating or minimizing the objects in our environment that release toxins and then filtering our air we provide the healthiest environment possible.
Remember – who benefits from purified air? Everyone!